The number of people without access to electricity is estimated at more than a billion, while almost 2.9 billion still rely on traditional, unsustainable biomass sources such as firewood for cooking and heating. About 80% of those lacking modern energy access live in rural areas, which also host more than 70% of the world’s poor.
Agriculture and related agri-food activities are at the heart of the rural economy. However, rural communities struggling with expensive or inadequate power supplies are often limited to producing low-quality goods with little diversity. Extending affordable, secure and environmentally sustainable energy to underserved rural areas can drive community development, strengthen livelihoods and improve the quality of life.
Off-grid renewables can support productive activity at all stages of the agri-food chain, from irrigation to support food production, through post-harvest processes, including agro-processing and food preservation for storage and transport. Modern renewable technologies also allow sustainable food preparation and cooking.
This IRENA study analyses the benefits of introducing off-grid technologies for agriculture. Maximising the benefits of decentralised renewables depends on effective policies and regulations, appropriate business models, and integrated resource management.